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Daydreaming of South America

In case you missed my InstaStories, last week I announced what seemed, quite unexpectantly that Darren and I are planning to sell everything and travel South America, with the kids. I am sure to many of you, the news seemed to come out of nowhere but to those close and dear, you KNOW how long this has been a dream.

About 3 years ago, Darren and I were binge-watching International House Hunters – it’s a favourite of ours – when we saw an episode based in South America. It didn’t take long for us to start Googling the cost of living, places to stay and whether it was possible for us to make a move, but as exciting as it was, Monday came knocking and along with the weekend, our South American dream had quickly come to an end.

Until now.

Over the last few months, several things have lead us to making the decision to pack our bags and go travel. In September, our 2-year lease ends and we’ll have just over a year until Axl starts Grade R, giving us some time to travel South America and decide if being Digital Nomads suits our family.

They way that I see it is, if we don’t go now, we probably never will, and we’ll always be left wondering about the what ifs. Once the kids start school, we’re stuck only travelling during school holidays or waiting until they finish school. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll be back in time for Axl to start school – nothing gained, nothing lost. If it does work and we love travelling, we’ll keep at it and will have had a chance to gauge what will work best for the kids and their education.

I haven’t spoken about it, but last year was shit for several reasons. There were some pretty low-lows which included almost losing my best friend, and husband. Do you know how many times we were told Darren MIGHT have cancer? Three. Fucken. Times. All in different parts of his body.

The week leading up to his stomach scans, I kept finding myself crying hysterically at stupid little things; have I taken enough photos of him with the kids, how will I teach them everything they need to know, how will I manage on my own, will I ever laugh again, how will we get through treatment, how is he going to handle it, how do you tell a 3-year old, we should have gone to the doctor earlier, taken it more seriously, maybe gotten a second or third opinion. But mostle, we should have done more.

This experience really put things into perspective for me. So, when the scans came back clear, I swore I’d make sure that no matter how many or how few days we have together, I am going to embrace it – embrace us.

Earlier this year, D and I started talking about South America again and the more we chatted it over, the harder it was to fight the urge to pack up and go. We then found out that South African passport holders can enter most South American countries visa-free for 90 days at a time and knowing that emigration isn’t for us, we started playing around with the idea of country hoping before stumbling upon a digital nomad community. Before long, we were subscribed to forums, I had followed and connected with fellow digital nomads across the globe and had even started a Pinterest board with places to visit in South America.

If you know a little about Darren and me, and how we first started dating, you’ll know that the Steve Jobs biography holds a very special place in my heart. One of my favourite philosophies of his is that you can only connect the dots looking back. I always find myself coming back to this, especially when I realize that at a certain time in my life, something seemed absurd, uncomfortable or challenging, but that later on, it helped me get to a place I needed to be. This reaffirms that no matter what you’re facing today, you’re right where you should be.

Looking back on my life, there are many moments that I can describe as a shit show but so much of it has prepared me for this adventure:

My dad is a sub-contractor. The problem is, like me, my dad can’t half-ass anything and because he is so good at it, he was often transferred to problematic jobs that were behind, so that he could do damage control, bring things up to speed and hand over an exceedingly good project. This meant that we travelled a lot. In addition, my parents loved going away for weekends at a time where we’d explore new parts of the country. They were never the sort of parents that needed kid-free weekends, instead they embraced having me along for the ride and took me everywhere – something I try doing as a parent.

We have also had to start over from nothing – many times. Each time we moved, I started at a new school, my parents made a home out of a house (and even a caravan), and together we would go through the motions. We moved to Botswana, lived in a caravan for 9 months, then moved into a park-home where we stayed until we were chased out the country and lived in a caravan in the yard of a family member. Shortly after, we found a new house, and started again, until a couple years later, we moved to PE and did it all over again. And then my parents got divorced, and I moved to Jo’burg and then back to PE… and then all our stuff was repocessed and my dad and I learnt that material possessions distract from building meaningful relationships. And then I met Darren, and we started our life together, where we started again and again… Starting over with nothing does not scare me. If anything, it’s the one thing I KNOW how to do.

So, what if being a digital nomad sucks and we fail? Cool, we’ll explore South America for a bit and come back home where we’ll begin again. It’s okay to fail, to start over, to live on the edge and risk it all for a dream.

There is so much more that I want to say on this but ultimately, Darren and I had kids young so that we could always travel with them. We were those people who said, “kids first, travel later.” And now I have my kids, and there’s this piece of me that’s already exploring and living in Chile, waiting for the rest of me to arrive in September.

I also promised to answer some of your questions;

What is our plan?

Our plan is to leave for Chile in September, where we will stay for 3 months. We are hoping to move each month to explore a new part of the country, and at the end of our 90-days, we’ll move onto Argentina, Brazil and Peru to do the same. The idea is that we’ll travel up north, as it becomes cooler because neither of us think we’ll survive summer in Brazil.

What about work?

We will continue to work for our America-based company and maintain our relationships with our South African clients through Dr. Design. That is the beauty of what we do – we can take our work wherever we go, so why choose the same damn office day in and day out?

Will I continue to blog?

I do not know. Ultimately, we will be living out of suitcases for a minimum of a year, if not longer, so I am minimizing my makeup collection (by selling it over here), and I don’t really want to try re-establishing myself in a new country as a blogger. I also don’t want to spend my time cooped up behind a screen, when I could be exploring the streets of Chile, you know? I love documenting our lives, so I might just focus on that and blog occasionally when I have the chance and focus more on Instagram so that we can share snaps of our travels and keep our families updated. I have gotten a lot of requests to share saving tips, and more travel-orientated posts, especially from a parent’s perspective, as I guess a lot of people are under the impression that travelling with kids is a complete nightmare.

Am I learning Spanish?

Yes, I signed up for a course almost immediately and spend at least 30 minutes each day, learning the language. It’s been a lot of fun and I am thoroughly enjoying it!

What about Sheever?

My mom has recently moved to PE, and has a black-doo of her own, so Sheever will be staying with her while we’re travelling. This has been one of the hardest things to consider but I feel more comfortable knowing she’ll be with family who is just as crazy about dogs as we are (if not more.)

What about school?

Axl is due to start grade R in 2020, so it gives us some time to figure out whether we like being digital nomads, or not. If we don’t, we’ll be back in time for him to start school with all the other kids. If we do like it, we’ll consider home-schooling or sending him to an international school.

What about money?

As soon as we made the decision to do this, we started cutting back and putting money in a savings account. We are selling absolutely everything – including my makeup, which you can shop here – so that when we leave, we only have our bags to worry about.

I think that covers just about everything. The next few months are going to be tough, mainly because my mind and heart is already in Chile, while I am sitting here sifting through the admin of making it happen. I also just want to thank every single person who sent an encouraging and supportive message, and to those who have bought our books, electronics, baby stuff and makeup to fund our dream.

I am the creator behind By Megan Kelly, mom of two boys, named Axl (4-years old) and Eli (1-year old), and local business owner of Dr. Design. I live on copious amounts of coffee, spend my free time listening to podcasts while I garden or journal, and really enjoy baking fresh treats for my family. On the weekends, you’ll likely find me exploring our local city, looking for new family-friendly places for our kids, but that’s only if I am not already shouting at the soccer on TV. I support Tottenham and enjoy pretending to know what  I am doing in the Fantasy League, but really I am just in it for the laughs. I can be bribed with chocolate and will never admit to having too much makeup – although, I probably do.

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24 Comments
  • Sandisiwe
    Posted at 12:47h, 08 May

    Wow spirit animal much? I have been wanting to travel and live abroad for atleast a year or two. I wish you nothing but the best.

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 19:50h, 08 May

      Thank you so much!

  • Omphile Raleie
    Posted at 13:17h, 04 April

    Looking forward to your Instagram posts. All the best with the rest of the arrangements till your departure. Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us – it’s really inspiring.

  • MyPE
    Posted at 09:07h, 04 April

    All strength to you Megan – aim to attend the carnival. Colour me in the colours of jealousy.

  • Heather
    Posted at 22:00h, 03 April

    So exciting! It will really broaden your horizons! Good luck!
    And I am so sorry about all the health issues with your husband last year. You are right, life is short, appreciate what you have now.

  • Janel Sunderlall
    Posted at 19:58h, 02 April

    Everything of the best Megan..i will definitely miss your blog if you decide not to continue however i admire your courage and desire to explore a new country. It sounds amazing and i hope that you will keep us updated from time to time on your journey. I pray thag it will be everything you expect and more😊💙maybe this will be my opportunity to see South America through your eyes😊

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 21:18h, 02 April

      Hey Janel! Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I am not going anywhere just yet, but if I do decide to blog less, I will definitely be keeping everyone up to date on my social media channels. Thank you for the kind thoughts and prayers!

  • kristynofis
    Posted at 19:08h, 02 April

    Hi Meghan I am from Chile, so everything you need please let me know, if you want I can give you my mail. I know a lot of places of my beautiful country. you couldn’t have a better choice 🙂

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 20:27h, 02 April

      Hey Kristy! This comment has made my day – thank you so much! I’d love to connect and chat more – are you on Instagram? I have no doubt that your country is going to be an incredible experience; I have read so many good things and everyone I connect with has been so helpful and friendly. Where do you live?

  • Jenty
    Posted at 17:49h, 02 April

    Wow that’s so exciting! Cannot wait to follow your travels.

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 18:57h, 02 April

      Thank you so much!

  • ChevsLife
    Posted at 17:47h, 02 April

    Your life philosophy on failure and not fearing starting over and having nothing – an opportunity for new beginnings – the essence of resilience. Travelling as a family is going to be such an adventure!

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 18:58h, 02 April

      Thank you so much. I think we’re often held back by the fear of failure, but sometimes that fear is just the drive we need to take flight!

  • prettifulblog
    Posted at 17:13h, 02 April

    Wow Megs, this is so amazing and inspiring! I am so so excited for you, and can’t wait to follow your journey!

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 18:59h, 02 April

      Awh, thank you so much! Glad you’ll be sticking around to follow along!

  • Lydia
    Posted at 16:52h, 02 April

    The most exciting move for the most deserving family.

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 19:00h, 02 April

      Thank you my Lyds. I love you lots!

  • Simone Cameron
    Posted at 16:52h, 02 April

    All the best. Very exciting and it seems you have thought of everything!!

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 19:02h, 02 April

      Not everything – but we’ll get around to planning the rest as we go along hahaha. Thank you!

  • Nadine Rose Larter
    Posted at 16:50h, 02 April

    You know how happy I am for you!

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 19:03h, 02 April

      Thank you Nadz, your support and kind words are always so appreciated!

  • Jonelle
    Posted at 16:21h, 02 April

    This is amazing! The year I spent traveling was the most amazing. South America is like no where else on earth. It’s a pity you haven’t put the Salt Flats of Bolivia on your list – super amazing to see but Bolivia does require medicals and visas to go. I am so excited for you and your family!! All the best!!

    • Megan Kelly
      Posted at 20:09h, 02 April

      Thank you so much Jonelle! I am sure we will add to the list as we go along. I know Bolivia is visa on entrance, so it’s still definitely an option!